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Belgium bans British travellers over Delta variant concerns

Tighter travel restrictions on arrivals from Britain into Ireland rook effect on Tuesday.

A huge push to get Londoners vaccinated is underway this weekend in an effort to stem the new wave of infections.
A huge push to get Londoners vaccinated is underway this weekend in an effort to stem the new wave of infections.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

BELGIUM WILL BAN entry to non-EU travellers from Britain in order to limit the spread of a Covid-19 variant that has forced London to delay the lifting of its pandemic curbs.

Britain is on a list of 27 nations that will also face the order which will take effect by 27 June at the latest, Jan Eyckmans, the spokesman for Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, told AFP.

Belgium is concerned about the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, that has caused a surge in Covid cases in Britain, and forced the UK government to jettison plans to ease curbs from June 21.

With Belgium’s restrictions, which already apply to South Africa, India and Brazil, only EU citizens or residents of Belgium will be able to enter the country.

Those travellers will still have to meet tight quarantine rules as well as take covid tests before being free to move in Europe.

The only exceptions for British or other non-EU travellers coming from a banned country will be diplomats on essential work and transport personnel, the government said.

So far in Belgium, the Delta variant accounts for 6.1% of infections, according to the most recent official data, but other research indicates the actual rate is higher.

Eyckmans said the government did not want to jeopardise the massive effort made by the Belgians just when the country’s vaccination rate had become the fastest in the EU.

“Britain is five weeks ahead of us in their vaccination drive and they had to postpone their plans to lift restrictions,” Eyckmans said.

“But this is a temporary situation that will be re-evaluated regularly,” he added.

The ban would tighten the current situation in which British travellers have to show proof of the essential nature of their trip when making a visit from Britain.

The decision was taken at a meeting on Friday of the Belgian government’s covid committee that sets the rules for fighting the spread of Covid-19 and will be published in the official journal in the coming days.

Of the 27 banned countries, Britain and Georgia are the only Europeans on Belgium’s list.

The other countries are Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jordan, Qatar, Nepal, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Bangladesh, Uganda, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Suriname, Peru and Pakistan.

Earlier this week, Cabinet agreed that people who are aren’t fully vaccinated and are travelling from Britain to Ireland will have to self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive.

The new travel restrictions take effect immediately. The 14-day self-quarantine is a legal requirement, even if the person has travelled into Ireland via Northern Ireland.

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This period can be reduced to 10 days, if they receive two negative PCR tests taken on day 5 and day 10 after arriving in Ireland. These tests can be availed of free of charge.

Fully vaccinated people who are travelling from Britain to Ireland will still have to self-quarantine for five days, and if they test negative for Covid-19 through PCR testing on their fifth day since their arrival, their quarantine period will end. 

© – AFP, 2021

- With reporting from Adam Daly 

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